Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Devine and Melissa Scorsone.
Nicole and Melissa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Our story began as two friends who were crazy enough to develop a premium breadcrumb line (Panache Pantry was the brand name). Initially, we started with an old family Sicilian recipe that smelled amazing. It was made with fresh breadcrumb, garlic, cheese and parsley. It was so fresh that it needed to be refrigerated. Eventually, we developed sweet breadcrumb lines that could be used from appetizer to dessert (yes, dessert!). We went through all of the fun hoops new entrepreneurs need to hurdle in order to get a brand on a shelf, which included Whole Food, Gelsons, West Elm, and the sort. Our efforts encompassed farmer markets in Little Italy, demos, long nights in the commercial kitchens, brand design, websites, permits, etc..
As part of that journey, we needed to come up with a marketing concept that allowed us to separate ourselves from the pack. It was one thing to add “premium” to a sleepy category like breadcrumbs, but to add it in the refrigeration section was a whole other level. Premium refrigerated shelf space is no joke.
Marketing seems basic to those who have never been behind the scenes, but it’s not simple to connect with a consumer through a label or packaging design on a shelf. What made our breadcrumb different? Just putting it in a stand-up pouch with a pretty label wasn’t going to be enough. Aside from the breadcrumb being premium and all-natural, it smelled AMAZING. How do you safely translate that on a shelf to the consumer? Demos can be crazy expensive for small companies, and nobody quite sells it the same way you will. Coupons are costly and can be cumbersome. Social media campaigns are great if you can figure out how to do them in epic fashion. You get the gist. So, what’s left?
This is where our story takes a sharp left turn and heads us down unchartered territory. Years prior to starting our breadcrumb line, Melissa introduced me to a one-way degassing valve when shopping for coffee. Not because we had any clue that’s what it was at the time, but all we knew was she could squeeze the bag and smell the coffee. The valve was intended to relieve pressure through transit of coffee and preserve the aroma… but we saw a completely different benefit as a consumer.
Fast forward three years and one 3 am, middle of the night, slap your husband on the chest and scream out, “That’s it… the coffee valve!”, which is what brings us to where we are today. We connected the dots to add a one-way degassing valve to our stand up pouch, allowing you to squeeze our packaging and smell what was inside without compromising our product or having to open it first. There was so much upside. It was inexpensive to add to the packaging, no oxygen could get in to affect the product, we could connect directly to our consumer, and the packaging would demo itself 24/7 while reducing the risk for the consumer to purchase.
Luckily, we had the foresight to file a patent on the method to market our concept. We didn’t invent the composition of the valve or improve it. We just needed a creative, inexpensive way to connect to our consumers, which allowed us to look at how to use the valve in a completely different way.
Since the patent was issued, we have since expanded our concept to multiple verticals including any dry consumer product with an aromatic presence (even cannabis), positioning us to license the marketing concept to brands looking to connect with their consumer directly and have a shareable experience.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Struggles are inherent to any journey, so our story is no different there. Throughout our tenure of developing the breadcrumb line, we lost two commercial kitchens (one was a kitchen fire from another tenant, the other was a company that ran out of business itself), financial burdens, discovering that volume will either make or break you, learning not all investors are created equal, and patents can be crazy expensive if you get sidetracked (and even when you don’t).
Knowing who to trust and having blind faith that it will work out has been the most taxing part of the process, but all worth it in the end. Dusting yourself off when something doesn’t work out as planned is the definition of resilience in our world. We have chosen to learn and listen any time the opportunity is afforded to us.
Riveel Valve – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
This was mostly covered in “our story”… but here it goes…
Our company encountered a fork in the road. Essentially, we have decided to table the breadcrumb line for now and move forward with licensing our marketing method. The technology allows a brand to apply our marketing concept to its packaging, giving brands the opportunity to have a shareable experience with the consumer directly. Not to mention, utilizing scent marketing gives consumers a great reason to hang out in your part of the aisle longer than intended and have some fun with your brand.
As a consumer, we are such creatures of habit. At the grocery store, we get into the habit of buying the same things over and over again; Not willing to take a chance on that new spice for $3. We are expected to buy blind in the grocery store unless it’s being demoed. Almost every other industry allows you some sort of shareable experience to the product you are about to purchase beforehand. You would never buy a candle without smelling it first!
Our marketing technology solves this problem for quite a few brands in the grocery world. An additional benefit to the marketing technology is their consumer is encouraged to pick up the packaging to check it out further, which is half the brands battle.
Recently, we have been working on expanding our marketing concept… but can’t share this part quite yet! However, you should expect to see our concept in very large ways soon!
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Personal success for us would be to see our concept used widely on the shelf (tea, spices, beef jerky, baking mixes, seasoned snacks, bath bombs, laundry pods, etc.). We, too, are consumers who would love to use this concept to help us make purchasing decisions.
Starting as a small start-up forced us to be creative and think outside of the box. We can relate to the brands that are building, or need to innovate, and need an inexpensive way to compete on the shelf! Utilizing our marketing concept gave us an incredibly large foot in the door to meet with Buyers because our concept had never been seen before and provided an additional benefit for the grocery store to provide to their customers.
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @riveelvalve